James Franco is not a scientist. But he’s no stranger to the occasional experiment. The actor who came to prominence on the cult-favorite TV show Freaks and Geeks has sought out roles as disparate as an amiable stoner (Pineapple Express), an intense supervillain (Spider-Man), an imperiled hiker (127 Hours), and even a celebrity having that weird dream where you’re kind of out of it while hosting the Oscars. And then there’s the life outside acting—enrolling at a bunch of universities, making art films, racing to catch a red-eye flight the day shooting ended for his upcoming Rise of the Planet of the Apes so he could attend the orientation for his doctoral program in English at Yale. It all has the feel of a talented guy just, you know, trying stuff out. wired talked to Franco about science fiction, technology in movies, and who the real monster is in Frankenstein.